There’s a comment from Kane Augustus on the last theological term post and I’ve decided to respond to it in a post.
When I was in Bible College and Seminary, I really enjoyed all the differences, shades, hues, and hair-splitting in theology. Now I wonder at it all: what’s the point of it?
First of all, this question seems to assume that differences in theology are “hairsplitting.” I would disagree. The differences—at least the ones that usually come up in the Theological Term of the Week posts—are more important than that. Here’s the thing about theological “minutiae”: they fit together to form a system. If we change what we believe on one detail, our whole system tends to change over time to make all our beliefs more consistent. Kind of like the “butterfly flapping his wings in Asia” thing. That means that what we may see as trivial or unimportant because we don’t see the whole picture at once, might, in the end, change the whole picture.
This is not to say that everyone needs to be as interested in the details of theology as I am. God gifts people differently and gives them different interests.
But it is right to value theology, because at its core, theology is about knowing God by studying what he is and who he is. For instance, in the post where you left your comment, the issue in question is what God purposed to accomplish in Christ’s death and what he actually accomplished in it. Answering those questions helps us know more about God himself and his work in our world. Wrestling with those questions is about valuing God himself by valuing knowledge about him. It’s about “loving God with all our minds” which is, after all, part of the first and greatest commandment.
Isn’t a personal confession enough?
I’m not sure exactly what you mean by personal confession. But I can say this: Confession is acknowledging something to be true. Whether by personal confession you mean acknowledging something about ourselves or acknowledging something about God, it involves theology. Underneath our personal confessions are answers to the questions, “Who am I, as a human being, before God?” and “Who and what is God that I should confess something to—or about—him?”
So, how do the minutiae in theology benefit, or bolster your life?
There’s an assumption behind this question, too, and it’s that the ultimate purpose of theology is to benefit or bolster our own lives. But isn’t the ultimate purpose of theology to give God honor by studying him and his work? It’s not that studying theology doesn’t benefit us, but that our benefit is not the ultimate reason to do it. The ultimate reason for studying the details of theology is the same as what should be the ultimate reason for everything we do: Giving God glory.
That said, I’d say one of the personal benefit of studying God and his works is that it builds my faith in God and his promises. And I’m sure there are other personal benefits as well, but rather than listing them myself, I’d like to ask the readers of this blog: How do you benefit from studying the details of theology?